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Oral history interview with Esther Lurie

Oral History | Accession Number: 2005.604.9 | RG Number: RG-50.641.0003

Esther Lurie discusses leaving Belgium, where she was studying art, to visit her family in Kovno in 1939; how she was unable to leave Kovno once the war began, despite having a British passport; painting large portraits of Stalin for the National Theatre during the Russian occupation; feeling protected by the non aggression pact between Stalin and Hitler; how her husband was sent to work in a factory and eventually executed along with 500 intellectuals; the bombing of Kovno and arrival of the Germans; being imprisoned and forced to wear a yellow star upon her release; being sent to the Kovno Ghetto where she remained with her sister and her sister’s baby; documenting in art what was happening in ghetto; meeting Avraham Tory with whom she discussed the need to record events; drawing people gathering potatoes in the fields; hungry crowds, soup lines, and the bridge separating the ghetto from the Aryan side; entering people’s apartments in order to draw without being seen; advice from Tory about specific scenes to record; working as a slave laborer and drawing in her time off; how the Germans discovered that she was an artist, gave her extra bread rations and organized an art studio where she had to copy Old Master drawings for them; cooperation of the Jewish police with Germans; the execution of many of the ghettos children in the Ninth Fort; the reaction of the parents who returned from work to find their children gone; burying her drawings; how Tory had her drawings photographed prior to leaving the ghetto; recovering 30-40 of the drawings after the war and reconstructing others from photographs; the liquidation of the ghetto in 1944; being deported with her sister and nephew to Stuffhof concentration camp; the death of her sister and nephew in Auschwitz; hiding 12 works of art with Lithuanian women; finding the 12 works 40 years later and exhibiting them in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibition on the Kovno Ghetto; her dedication to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust; and her feelings of guilt for having survived.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Esther Lurie
interview:  approximately 1997
Documentary films.
2 digital files : MP4.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from Herb Krosney
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:41:14
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